Well hello! Let me tell you why I haven’t been blogging. Because I haven’t been cooking with the boys. Because K is 15 months, which makes it nearly impossible to cook with him, ignore him while cooking with C, or cook with the both of them. As lovely as it may sound that “I cook with my kids,” it simply isn’t practical sometimes. And, lately, it hasn’t been practical at all!
I decided to give it a go today for a couple of reasons. First, my husband was going to be late-but-not-that-late from work, giving me about 45 extra minutes of The Witching Hour (that miserable part of your day that inevitably includes tantrums, leg-pulling, timeouts, water spilling, and supper preparation). I knew I needed something to keep us all busy and keep us from being famished. Second, it’s just been a long time since I actually planned a meal to cook together. So this pizza was perfect: kids love piling on toppings, we could snack healthily on the veggies and cheese, and I could give the boys baths while it baked.
From Simple and Delicious, June/July 2010 (I will make adjustments next time we make it; I’ll note those at the end.)
- 2 tubes (8oz each) refrigerated garlic breadsticks
- 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
- 1 small yellow squash, finely diced
- 1 zucchini, finely diced
- 4 Tbsp Italian salad dressing
- 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
I was one lucky lady today, because our high school neighbor brought over her beloved Bichon/Maltese who not only acted as a very effective vacuum for K’s lunch mess but provided distraction while I chopped the veggies. I was planning on letting 3-year old C help with his own chopper, but having made it now, I will chop beforehand to streamline the process next time. To get fully ready for the boys, I had the veggies chopped and at the ready, the cheeses out (Monterey Jack still in block form), mixing bowls and spoons at hand, and the oven preheating to 350. C on his step stool, K in the under-counter seat.
We opened one can of breadsticks at a time and began pressing them onto the bottom and up the sides of a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. This wasn’t as fun for C as I thought it might be, probably because he wasn’t really effective. However, he was content eating the chopped veggies and coaching me on where to place the next piece of dough. (K was throwing the veggies on the floor and yelling because the cheese was in plain sight and he wasn’t getting any.) I couldn’t find garlic breadsticks at the grocery store, so I had C brush on a tub of leftover Papa John’s garlic butter. mmmm…. We baked the crust for 8+ minutes, until it was just starting to brown around the edges.
Meanwhile, C dumped all the veggies (plus some red bell pepper we happened to have, finely diced) into a medium mixing bowl, and we added 2 Tbsp Italian dressing, the basil, and the Italian seasoning. I accidentally forgot the fresh parsley (which I will add next time) and purposely forgot 1 tsp of garlic powder (which I will not add next time). He mixed – very thoroughly, I’m excited to add! – while I opened the cheese to quell the fussing baby. C had fun grating the cheese with me on a box grater. He loved to look inside and watch the ribbons of cheese peel off and into the grater.
When the crust was done, I brushed on a little more Italian dressing, grated on the Parmesan cheese, and topped it with 1 cup of the Monterey Jack. C helped me dump the veggie mix onto the crust but then was done for the day. He played the drop-and-pick-up game with K in his seat, which allowed me the time to spread out the veggies, drop the Ricotta in dollops around the pizza, and finish with the remaining Monterey Jack cheese and a sprinkling of garlic powder.
Bake for 20-22 minutes while you give your kids quick baths. If you’ve planned it just right, the square pieces you cut will break into breadstick-width chunks, just right for little hands to pick up. This was very yummy, especially with a glass of much-deserved Chardonnay.
Next time: I will probably go with a regular pizza crust, refrigerated or handmade (my hubby makes an amazing crust from scratch!). The breadstick-slices were convenient, but pressing the seams together added about 10 minutes to prep. I may or may not worry about the garlic butter on the crust; will probably try it once without to subtract the calories. The tomatoes were my favorite part so I will make sure to have lots of those, and the hubs suggested chopped canned artichokes, which would be fantastic. And I would definitely use mozzarella (which I always have in the fridge) instead of Monterey Jack (which I had to purchase just for this recipe).